Photo courtesy of expom2uk at Flickr.com.
A new study by the University of Colorado at Boulder has found a direct link between human activity in the American West and dust storms. This is the first time that the effects of human development (such as the introduction of wild horses, cattle grazing, and intensive farming) have been directly linked to dust. Researchers studied the sediment found in the bottoms of alpine lakes and concluded that dust levels have been 500-700% higher in the American West since the 1860’s.
On the plus side, dust levels have been declining since the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act, which was introduced during the Dust Bowl to prevent further erosion in American farmlands. So, while the study proves that humans can cause dust events, it also suggests that we can take steps to reduce our impacts.